"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." -- Benjamin Franklin

I believe the board has shown the kind of leadership in the last two board meetings that our kids deserve. The board has been considering a new administrative regulation that sets parameters and standards for the district to follow when considering promoting or retaining 8th grade students. The regulation covers all students; but the board's focus appears to be on 8th graders.

It is my opinion, and it appears the opinion of most of the board, that the regulation is too vague and lacks clear direction for enforcement. Board President, Mr. Sanchez (a product of retention himself), believes promoting a student when they are not ready is setting the student up for inevitable failure. Dr. Vaccarello argued wording in the regulation that sets minimum requirements for promotion; while the very next sentence outlines a process that allows staff to overlook a student's failure to meet the minimum requirements. It allows the school to promote the student to a probationary program at the high school. I think this sends the wrong message. Mr. Sanchez stated that if minimum requirements are not going to be enforced, it would be better to not have them in the first place.

There are two types of students this regulation appears to address: 1) The underachiever who fails to complete their classwork but is able to pass the exams; 2) The hard working student that scores below basic on standards test.

The administration's position is that they want direction from the board that will show they are allowed to retain a student; but their comments show they are reluctant to act.

One board member (I don't remember who) was concerned about running into an upset parent because his child was promoted with out the necessary skills to succeed. Dr. Latham's response was they are more likely to hear from a parent concerned about why his child was being held back. Even though the board's position seems clear, Dr. Latham was still asking for direction. The administration appeared to be hesitant to "start all over" and get it right. They suggested minor changes could be made to the wording and brought back quickly for a vote.

I agree with, and support, the board's position. Most of you know how critical I have been of this board's lack of leadership. It is refreshing to see them stick to principles that I feel are best for our kids. I'd like to see the same parents and community members who have supported my prior criticism of the board come out in support of the board now. I plan to ask the board to go back to the drawing board and draft a regulation with some teeth. We need to follow up by supporting the board as well as the administration when they decide retention is in the best interest of a student. If a parent is angry because he feels the district is unfairly holding his child back while the district is able to defend its decision, then the staff should feel supported by the rest of us who are concerned about the future of all the kids, even when their parents aren't.